CAN I SUE SOMEONE IF THEY INSULT ME?

Being insulted by another person can be hurtful, embarrassing and damaging. Much of the time we’re told just to develop a thicker skin and move on, but what if the insult is an attack on you or your ability as a person? When it goes this far, it can be considered defamation.

  1. Damaging a person’s reputation

In March 2015, the South Gauteng High Court awarded a human resource manager R50 000 in damages, plus legal costs, after she was called a “liar”; and an “unintelligent white girl” (Nadia van der Westhuizen v Morgan Motlogelwa Ntshabelele, case 2014/27063). The court upheld her claim for damages and agreed that she suffered damage to her reputation as a result of the defamatory remarks made by the defendant.

The defendant, who uttered the defamatory remarks in the presence of fellow employees, including the plaintiff, was retrenched by the employer. The defendant later made further utterances that the court held were per se defamatory. The defendant did not oppose the application.

  1. When is it defamation?

A statement is defamatory if it is likely to injure the good esteem in which a person is held by the reasonable average person to whom it has been published. It includes not only statements that expose a person to hatred, contempt or ridicule, but also statements that are likely to humiliate or belittle the plaintiff; which tend to make him or her look foolish, ridiculous or absurd or which render the plaintiff less worthy of respect by his or her peers.

  1. What can the court do?

The court may exercise its own discretion when awarding damages. Relevant factors for the court to consider include the seriousness of the defamatory statements, falseness, nature and extent of the publication of the statement, malice, rank or social status, the absence of an apology, motive and the general conduct of the defendant.

The conclusion is that you should be careful what you say to others, especially if what you are saying is not true or has the intention to harm/hurt the other person.

References:

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SCHOOL FEES IN SOUTH AFRICA

In terms of Section 5 (3) (a) of the South African Schools Act No 84 of 1996 no learner may be refused admission to a public school on the grounds that his/her parents are unable to pay or has not paid the school fees as determined by the Governing Body. However, this Act does not make provision for independent “private” schools with regard to fees.

The right to education

Section 5 (3) (a) of the South African Schools Act No 84 of 1996 has incorporated Chapter 2 Section 29 (1) (a) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 1996 in terms of which everyone has the right to basic education. Therefore, no child can be sent home or refused to participate in certain activities or sports due to arrears school fees[1]. Public schools must provide for equitable criteria and procedures for the total, partial or conditional exemption of parents who are unable to pay school fees.[2] This means that should a parent find themselves retrenched during the third term of school, they can apply for subsidiary for the tuition of the last term and their child/children can continue their education.

Private schools

The South African Schools Act[3] does not make provision for independent “private” schools. Private schools are governed by the Private Schools Act No 104 of 1986, which does not make any mention of arrears school fees and whether or not children are still allowed their right to basic education if their parents find themselves in a financial struggle. The Private Schools Act focuses more on the regulations of a school itself and how to become a private school.

Problems

The problem relating to this is the fact that the children suffer. At the time of entering their children into a private school, the parents are financially stable. However, what happens if a parent suddenly finds him/herself retrenched? Furthermore, the above problem is aggravated by the fact that private schools are struggling to obtain funds from the Government for subsidies. Race-based inequalities in subsidies to independent schools have been eliminated since 1994. Since then, subsidy levels have differed somewhat per province. But extreme pressure on the non-salary components of provincial education budgets, especially in 1997/98 and 1998/99, has resulted in a sharp decline in the per learner value of independent school subsidies, and considerable uncertainty as to the future trend of independent school funding by provincial education authorities.[4]

References:

  • [1] South African Schools Act No 84, Section 41 (7)
  • [2] South African Schools Act No 84 of 1996, Section 39(2) (b)
  • [3] South African Schools Act No 84 of 1996
  • [4] South African Schools Act No 84 of 1996: Rules and Regulations

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)